Most of us are good talkers. We like to share our stories and our accomplishments. We are doers and if we look at our calendars, it’s safe to say we keep busy with the “doing” all day long.

In conversation with others, we are often so lost in our own thoughts, we are scarcely able to hear what is being said. Perhaps we don’t listen because we imagine we already know what the person is going to say. Maybe we don’t listen because we’re not really interested in the topic. We might just be too tired or too self-absorbed, but whatever it is, it happens to all of us.

Apparently, it was even happening in Jesus’ day. He often would finish a talk with His followers by saying, “Let the one who has ears to hear, hear.” He punctuated His thoughts with this phrase because He wanted His words to be taken to heart and to be correctly understood. Listening is about more than ears to hear. It requires focus and attention and a desire to know the speaker. Listening asks you to choose to quiet your mind.

Do you remember the story of the boy Samuel, who ran to his teacher Eli three times, thinking Eli was calling him? When Eli finally figured out that God was calling the boy, he told Samuel to be quiet and listen for God’s voice. When Samuel heard God’s voice, he said, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”  Alfred Brendal wrote that the word “listen” contains the exact same letters as the word “silent.” Maybe the key to good listening then is to be quiet. When we set aside the noises of the world, we might hear more clearly. God is always speaking, just waiting for us to hear His voice.

A humorist quipped that his wife often said he never listened to her. Then in his next line he joked, “At least I think that’s what she said.” It’s funny, because it resonates with many of us. We half listen at best to our spouse or our children, catching only part of what was said. At worst, we never hear the intended message at all. We simply don’t lean in and listen up.

What if we do the same thing to God? We’ve got the talking part down. We can fill God’s ears to the brim. But Mother Teresa said that “listening is the beginning of prayer,” not talking. Next time you have a heart full of concerns you want to share with God, get them off your chest and then wait. Wait long enough to see what He might have to say just to you. Wait to hear His voice and when you do, say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”

The One who designed you to be a speaker and a listener, knows you well. He knows you are capable beyond measure, able to shine more brightly, and created for a unique purpose. If you have ears to hear, lean in.  Hear Him out. It just might change your life!